Michelle Obama: the difference between active and over scheduled

First Lady Michelle Obama tossed off her shoes, got comfy on her office couch and dished with me for more than an hour Monday, fielding questions from you — the women of iVillage — about everything from whether women can truly have it all to daughter Malia entering high school to her thoughts on the book sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey.

We'll be filling you in on all the interesting things Mrs. Obama said in our exclusive mum-to-mum conversation in the coming days, but with her Tuesday Guest Editor theme devoted to getting the family energised and moving, we wondered how much she pushes her girls in sports. I had heard her mention once before that Malia, who is trying out for the tennis team at her new high school, wanted to give up tennis at one point. Mrs. Obama encouraged her to stick with the game.

"So I just sort of said, look, you're going to do tennis, and you're going to do tennis because I want you to do an individual sport. It's not about you being a good tennis player. It's about you learning how to stick with something hard and get better at it, and understand, because that's — we have these conversations — that's what life is," the first lady told me. "Life is getting through stuff that's hard, teaching yourself that you can do hard things and you get better at them and then they get easier."

Watch more of our exclusive interview with Michelle Obama here:

Mrs. Obama also revealed that she struggles, like most of us, with how many activities are too many for her girls. "We don't always get it right," she said. "I mean, with Sasha, she was overscheduled last year because she had piano, then we threw in swimming, and she had Tae Kwon Do, and she was playing basketball and soccer. It got to be too much, and she was melting down. And I had to step back and say, okay, she can't do all this; this is not possible. And we just started taking stuff off."

Clearing Sasha's weekday after-school schedule was necessary, but it doesn't mean it was an easy call, the first lady acknowledged. "Because you want to expose them to music and to a team sport and to an individual sport, but I think it — I've learned that it depends on the kid, it depends on the time in their lives. And you've got to be watching closely, because they'll show you signs when it's too much. And you've got to be ready to make the hard call, and sometimes you have to make it for them because they want to try to do it all. So it's not easy," she added.

Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage. Follow her on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).

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